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Greatest Playoff Games for the Green Bay Packers in the 21st Century: Fan’s Take
The Green Bay Packers clinched a first-round bye and have guaranteed themselves nothing lower than a No. 2 seed in the 2012 NFL playoffs following a 46-16 victory over the Oakland Raiders on December 11, 2011. They can clinch home-field advantage with a victory in any of their final three games.
It feels like yesterday since the NFL lockout was threatening to claim the preseason. Now the playoffs will begin in less than one month. After four road playoff games in the past two seasons, Aaron Rodgers will start in his first playoff game at Lambeau Field.
These were what I considered as the five greatest playoff games for the Packers during the 21st century (January 1, 2001, to January 1, 2012).
#5: Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals (2010)
The Green Bay Packers came out on the wrong end of the highest-scoring playoff game in NFL history when they were upset by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2010 NFC wild card, 51-45. This was Rodgers' first playoff game as a starting quarterback.
Many Packer fans were overconfident about this game, myself included. The Packers had manhandled the Cardinals during the preseason and the meaningless regular-season finale. The Packers had won seven of their past eight games following a 4-4 start. They were a wild-card team after the Minnesota Vikings won the NFC North.
The Cardinals were much more competitive in the wild-card matchup. They jumped out to a 17-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Cardinals had a 31-10 lead just four minutes into the third quarter.
The Packers mounted a comeback as they scored 28 points in the next 16 minutes. That tied the game at 38 with fewer than 11 minutes remaining. Both offenses would add another touchdown and the Cardinals would miss a field-goal as time expired. The game was 45-45 heading into overtime.
The Packers won the toss. Surprisingly, the Cardinals' defense would create a turnover as Karlos Dansby finished the game with a 17-yard fumble return. Rodgers missed Greg Jennings on a streak route to begin the period. There was also this face-mask penalty that was uncalled.
Probably the most exciting…and frustrating… game I've ever witnessed. I was screaming at Jarrett Bush even while the Packers' offense was on the field. At the same time, I was amazed at Rodgers' poise and his ability to lead a comeback once they trailed 31-10.
#4: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (2011)
What's the only way to intensify the NFL's all-time greatest rivalry? Play it at Soldier Field with the George S. Halas Trophy on the line.
The game itself wasn't that exciting. The Packers jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Their offense was scoreless for the remainder of that game. Jay Cutler had a bad performance that was capped off with a game-ending injury. The Packers almost surrendered a 14-point lead to backup quarterback Caleb Hanie.
#3: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (2004)
The Seattle Seahawks and Packers needed overtime to resolve their dispute in the 2004 NFC wild card. That led to one of the greatest face-palms in sports history.
#2: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (2011)
Back when Matt Ryan was considered as the superior quarterback to Rodgers.
The Packers had lost the regular-season meeting after a 47-yard field goal from Matt Bryant, 20-17. The Atlanta Falcons were enjoying a Cinderella-like season as they were the NFC's No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs. However, there were some questions as to whether that magic had died after the New Orleans Saints had beaten them in the final weeks of the season.
Whatever doubts there were about that magic disappearing were eliminated with this play.
The Packers took a 42-14 lead into the fourth quarter. They'd win 48-21. Rodgers went 31-of-36 for 366 yards and three touchdowns. This was the time when many fans realized that the Packers were destined for their 13th championship.
#1: Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (2011)
No explanation needed here. Super Bowl XLV champions!
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. His favorite Packer moments include Super Bowl XXXI, XLV, and Al Harris interception return following Matt Hasselbeck's "We're gonna score" comments. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months.
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